Sunday 18 November 2018

Garda chief privately discredited me, says whistleblower

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan said: 'I am innocent'
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan said: 'I am innocent'

Whistleblower Maurice McCabe has accused Garda chief Noirin O'Sullivan of privately discrediting him while publicly declaring her support over his horrific ordeal.

The sergeant targeted in a smear campaign threatening to topple the government has also demanded Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and other ministers reveal if they were ever briefed on false sex abuse claims peddled against him.

In a rare statement from Mr McCabe and his wife Lorraine, they also rejected the need for the imminent "secret" commission of inquiry into the "sustained campaign to destroy our charac ters".

Instead, the couple called for politicians and police to tell the truth immediately about who knew of the false allegations being spread about Mr McCabe as he tried to expose wrongdoing within the force.

"We have endured eight years of great suffering, private nightmare, public defamation and state vilification, arising solely from the determination of Maurice to ensure that the Garda Siochana adheres to decent and appropriate standards of policing in its dealings with the Irish people," they said.

The McCabes said their personal lives and family life - including the lives of their five children - have been "systematically attacked" in a number of ways by State agencies.

"We have also been the subject of a long and sustained campaign to destroy our characters in the eyes of the public and public representatives and in the eyes of the media," the couple said.

On the imminent inquiry, to be headed by Judge Peter Charleton, the McCabes said they are "definitely not agreeable" to their entitlement to the truth being postponed by a "secret investigation behind closed doors" which could take one-and-a-half years.

"We are entitled to the truth today - justice can follow in its wake," they said.

"Now that the truth has emerged of the false and shocking campaign to vilify us and discredit us, there is no reason to give any secret or private inquiry..."

The couple have demanded the Taoiseach, Justice Minister and Children's Minister and other members of government disclose if they were ever "briefed formally or informally" about the false allegations against Mr McCabe.

"These are all matters which can be answered without any public inquiry under statute," they said.

The McCabes said the Garda Commissioner "has claimed in public to be supportive of us while seeking in private to discredit Maurice McCabe before the O'Higgins Commission".

"We have witnessed with growing disbelief her denials of involvement in discrediting Maurice," they said.

"If the foregoing questions are answered truthfully and in public now, the public will be in a position to know who to believe."

The remarkable four-page statement was issued through Mr McCabe's solicitor during another day of rapid-fire developments in an escalating crisis of confidence in policing and politicians.

Fianna Fail has warned the government is facing collapse over the affair.

The Fine Gael-led minority administration is propped up by Fianna Fail as part of a three-year confidence and supply agreement.

But as the fall-out deepens, Fianna Fail's justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan suggested the scandal could spark a snap election.

"If we don't get this sorted out, the government could collapse," he said.

Among the latest twists in the furore are:

:: a hard-hitting statement from Garda chief Noirin O'Sullivan, insisting she will not step aside and declaring: "I am innocent."

:: a Director of Public Prosecution ruling that former head of the Garda press office Superintendent Dave Taylor should not be prosecuted over the alleged leaking of information to journalists.

:: a call by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin for the Garda Commissioner to "assess where she stands".

:: Children's Minister Katherine Zappone's announcement of an independent statutory investigation into how Tusla, the child and family agency, manages allegations of child abuse.

Mr Taylor was the source of claims, in a protected disclosure, that senior gardai targeted Mr McCabe in a widespread character assassination by passing on false and damaging allegations.

It is reported he alleges Ms O'Sullivan was briefed about the smear campaign.

Mr Taylor has been suspended from the force for the past 21 months over the alleged leaking of the names of Roma children who were taken into social care in 2013.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has recommended no prosecution be brought against him.

In a statement, Ms O'Sullivan again insisted she played no role in the peddling of false rumours of child sex abuse against Mr McCabe in order to blacken his name for exposing wrongdoing in the force.

"A campaign of false accusations, repeated and multiplied, do not make me guilty of anything," she said.

Ms O'Sullivan said she had "made it clear that I was not part of any campaign to spread rumours about Sergeant McCabe and didn't know it was happening at the time it was happening".

"I have repeatedly refuted that claim and do so again," she said.

"The easiest option for me would be to step aside until the Commission (of Investigation) finishes its work.

"I'm not taking that option because I am innocent and because An Garda Siochana, under my leadership, has been making significant progress, with the help of our people, the Government, the Policing Authority and Garda Inspectorate, in becoming a beacon of 21st century policing."

Ms O'Sullivan's defence of her position came shortly after Fianna Fail leader Mr Martin said "the commissioner herself should assess where she stands".

Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein have backed Mr McCabe's calls for a full public inquiry.

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section